High-Altitude Summer Marathon (HASM) defending champion Teboho Noosi has downplayed his ambitions to defend the title at this year's edition of the race in Mokhotlong on Sunday.
The 16th edition of the race will this year have four categories having added the street mile category. Other categories of the race are the five-kilometer, the 21.1-kilometre half marathon and the 42.2km race.
Winners of the main race will pocket M120 000 while the first and second runners-up will pocket M80 000 and M40 000 respectively.
The winners of the five-kilometre race will each get M5 000 while first and second runners-up will pocket M4 000 and M3 400 respectively. In half-marathon the winners will get M20 000 while the second and third placed runner will pocket M12 000 and M8 000 respectively.
Noosi, who finished 11th in the Soweto Marathon on 3 November this year, said he is targeting a win like all the other athletes although his preparations were poor.
"Everyone goes into a race to win it and I believe that will still be the case this year," Noosi said.
"I also will be racing to win although the High-Altitude was never on my priorities this year. Instead, I have been focusing on other races outside the country.
"I can't really say that I had good preparations especially because I had just participated in the Soweto Marathon earlier this month. However, we will see what happens."
Noosi said he encountered some challenges during his preparations when trying to prepare for the marathon.
"When I ran in the race last year, I had just returned from the Soweto Marathon but this year I wasn't focused on the High-Altitude...
"Often, when one goes into a competition, they can tell if they are going to win. This time I can feel I am not going to win but we will see how it goes because ultimately, winning or losing is determined by the preparation of other athletes."
He said he also decided to focus on foreign races because locally there are few races.
"The High-Altitude is the biggest race in the country and it comes in December, so it becomes a challenge for people like myself who take this as a career. You cannot wait for one race the whole year," Noosi said.
Meanwhile, Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) spokesperson Sejanamane Maphathe says preparations were on track for the High-Altitude with 600 athletes registered.
"Preparations for the race are on right track. The deadline for registration was on Sunday and we have 600 runners registered so far.
"Our target was to get as many athletes as possible however, we didn't do too well because we failed to attend the exhibition that we normally attend in South Africa. That negatively affected our registrations but we are still satisfied with the numbers that we have.
"We are giving out race packs on Saturday and also a one-mile race for children aged 10 to 15 years," Maphathe said.
He also said that the majority of local top runners have registered except last year's female winner Mamoroallo Tjoka, who is still serving her suspension.
"Most of them have registered and we are still expecting a tough battle. One of the top runners who is not competing this year is Tjoka because she is still on suspension," Maphathe said.